Television presenter Eamonn Holmes has apologised after he was accused of comparing the attack on the Manchester United team bus to Hillsborough.
The 56-year-old, hosting the three-hour Sunrise breakfast programme on Sky News, had been speaking about Tuesday night’s trouble at Upton Park ahead of United’s game against West Ham, when missiles were thrown at the team bus.
Sports presenter Jacquie Beltrao said the day’s papers had been dominated by “yob culture” and were a “throwback to the Eighties”.
Holmes added that it was not “the image that the English Premier League wants to portray around the world”.
He went on: “It was a dream for them on Sunday when we saw the scenes of the King Power Stadium in Leicester, but now this is going back to the Seventies and to the Eighties, and to everything you were seeing that was bad about Hillsborough, for instance.”
Twitter users soon expressed their outrage, suggesting Holmes had appeared to link the fans’ behaviour with the Hillsborough disaster.
But in a statement Holmes said: “Obviously there is no comparison between Hillsborough and the scenes we saw at West Ham last night. I apologise if anyone thought I was making that connection.”
Sam Airey @SamAirey said: “@EamonnHolmes like Hillsborough was it Eamonn? Or maybe you missed the fact that Hillsborough had NOTHING to do with fan behaviour #ignorant”
John edwards@johnedwards4861 said: “@EamonnHolmes How can you compare the Man Utd bus attack with the tragic events at Hillsboro shame on you.”
But Holmes slammed the comments on his Twitter account.
In a series of tweets, he said: “Just being made aware of someone trying to use me to stir up trouble re The Hillsborough disaster. How low, how disgusting.
“The Hillsborough families have suffered enough without distasteful sniping like this. For the record there is no comparison between ... events last night at West Ham and Hillsborough. On the programme I was trying to talk about images we never ever want to see again.”
At the recent inquests into the deaths of the 96 fans, Liverpool supporters were exonerated over their behaviour by the jury after decades of smears.
At the time, relatives who had just lost loved ones in the disaster then faced headlines, based on police briefings, suggesting they had been to blame.
Tuesday night’s incident, during which four police officers and a member of the public suffered minor injuries, happened as the vehicle drove into the Boleyn Ground for West Ham United’s last match at the stadium.